View Full Version : Side Jobs

04-08-2001, 02:07 PM
how does everyone on the site handle employees that take on side jobs? A few guys that I work with take on some but usually only for immediate family. I know that we can't control every minute of every employees life but what can we do to minimize interest in this type of work?

John Allin
04-08-2001, 02:17 PM
For Production Workers and Foremen, we don't mind as long as they don't take "time off" to do this, and as long as they don't use our equipment, and materials - and we prefer that they tell us they are doing it so we don't "jump to conclusions".

Production Managers sign an employment agreement that prohibits this activity, however they are paid handsomely enough so they don't need to do it.

Several years ago we had a fellow call our office to 'complain' about how his lawn came in..... I went to see him and told him we had no record of doing the job. He had a bag of our seed and a spreader in his garage. Paid the crew in cash.... had a receipt (handwritten and not on our invoice) Seems I had a detail crew that was doing the new lawn job a couple hours a day (on my time and with my materials), fudging their work orders to make up the time on other sites to cover it... and screwed up the job. Customer wanted me to "guarantee" it. Told him I would not prosecute if he dropped the issue and gave me back my spreader and the seed. Then confronted the crew after going back over the work orders. Fired the bunch of them. We didn't have Production Managers yet.

Had another crew, again several years ago, that was out of town doing a sod job (14 loads of sod), and sodded a hotel next to my customers site. Priced the job, ordering extra sod, and pocketed the money (I got to pay the crew to boot). THAT guy complained about the sod dying a YEAR later. Same routine.... fired the bunch of them.....

Thankfully it has only happened twice in 23 years.... but it's enough to make you ask questions (and hire managers).

04-08-2001, 02:38 PM
man john, that must really suck. how many employees does your company have now? people tell me that the more employees you have the more headaches you have. i guess that was true in your case a couple of times there.

dan deutekom
04-08-2001, 06:17 PM
That really sucks but you have only one person to blame and that is yourself. Obviously you have learned from your mistake and remedied the problem. Glad you have let others know that you have to be on top of your crews and put systems in place so this sort of thing dosn,t happen. You have to start this as soon as you have a crew without you out thier.

04-08-2001, 07:07 PM

That's a curious response. I'd be interested to know how you handle your employees.

John Allin
04-08-2001, 10:29 PM
I was totally aware that I was at fault, for the most part. However, that doesn't excuse theft and dishonesty. If we have to watch over everyone every minute just to make sure they are honest (thus treating everyone as if they are dishonest as a matter of course) then being in business wouldn't be any fun at all. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to believe that employees come to work with the intent of doing a good job (for the most part). I think it is the rare employee that gets up in the morning and starts out the day by saying to him/herself that "gee, I'll go to work and screw up today, and on purpose to boot". And, having "systems" in place certainly cuts down on the problems, however it doesn't eliminate them entirely. If someone is dishonest it is amazing just how resoursefull they can be at times.

Currently we have 65 employees on the payroll, working for us in summer and just over 4300 employees and subs in winter. Our revenues are in the low to mid 8 figure range.

dan deutekom
04-10-2001, 03:59 PM
All I am saying is that if you take the opportuninty to steal away then there is less chance of it happening. Locks keep the honest people honest. If you have crews, then you have to show up on a regular basis to see what they are doing. If you don't know where your crew is or you don't question the use of extra material, or you don't do a cost accounting of your jobs when you finish them to see if they are profitable then the crew Knows there is no accountability for their actions and those with slightly dihonest intentions will swing the wrong way. I realize that if you hire someone that is out to steal they will but with proper monitoring you know a lot sooner. You don,t have to be an oger or anything but it dosn't hurt to keep an eye on things

04-10-2001, 04:43 PM
Dan, I hope that you are fortunate enough to be doing over $10 million a year so that you can understand the scope of what John is doing. There's an old proverb about 'walking in another's moccasins for two weeks before criticizing them'. Maybe you could be a 'guest' production manager for him for a little while. Also, even if you are with a crew all day, they can come back after hours and on weekends to steal away work from you if they want to do it.

dan deutekom
04-10-2001, 06:27 PM
my posts were not meant as a critisism of john. If you read his post it says "We didn't have Production Managers yet." and "Thankfully it has only happened twice in 23 years.... but it's enough to make you ask questions (and hire managers)." it shows to me that he has put systems in place to prevent this from happening again. Also the bigger the company the more you need to have these controls in place. (unforunate but I find true}. As for walking in another persons moccosins you don,t know my moccosins but I have been there, as a service manager for an interior landscape company in the high 7 figure range with 40 technicians under my direct supervision. I left that job of 20 years to move on to start on my own and I don't ever want to get that big because to me it ceases to be fun.
I agree with John when he says
"Unfortunately, I have a tendency to believe that employees come to work with the intent of doing a good job (for the most part). I think it is the rare employee that gets up in the morning and starts out the day by saying to him/herself that "gee, I'll go to work and screw up today, and on purpose to boot". And, having "systems" in place certainly cuts down on the problems, however it doesn't eliminate them entirely. If someone is dishonest it is amazing just how resoursefull they can be at times." This is why they have bonding companies. No critisism intended or implied just one of the lessons of life that we seem to learn as we go through life. "THE MORE EMPLOYEES YOU HAVE THE MORE THE CHANCE OF A ROTTEN APPLE BUT YOU ALSO HAVE MORE GOOD PEOPLE TOO

John Allin
04-10-2001, 09:18 PM
I think Dan is quite accurate in his observations, and I didn't take offense to those observations. I DO think that Dan's feedback and observations are great food for thought for those that might be reading this particular thread - and afterall, isn't that the point of all this interaction and "back and forth" type 'conversations'??

While I appreciate that several of you are slightly miffed by Dan's thoughts, I don't think you should be offended by his observations. They are germaine to the thread and it's intent. I don't think Dan was being critical of me (and did not take it as such)... I perceived that he was making comment about what COULD happen if one wasn't attentive to the possibilities that can happen.... and I certainly was a great example (in those two incidents that occured in my company) of what can happen if you can't (or won't) pay attention to what's happening "out there".

Dan... I thank you for your observations and hope that others that read this thread can learn from our 'give and take' here.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.......

04-11-2001, 09:55 AM
Our family(Dad,Uncle and me run 3 different landscape and maintenance Companies) doesn't have the problems that John Allin had and fixed, but had problems with employess over the last 30 years. We had caught workers passing out their own business cards when on our time. Workers using our trucks to go somewhere. This paticular instance, my uncle reported the truck stolen, helper was stopped by police and arrested. He had the charges dropped, but immediatly fired the worker on the spot.

To stop this kind of problem, we all offer a profit sharing program on any clean-up or landscaping job. We also will let them do side jobs under these terms:
They have to use their own equipment. We do not lend any equipment to anybody!
It's on their time and not our time. This means that if they are needed to work on Saturday, they work or loose their job if we catch them doing work. Of course if they want a saturday to go play with the family, we don't have a problem with that. When they are hired, Saturday is a work day,theyre told.

One thing about employyee's, you have to trust them. If you don't, they're not going to be working for you long.


04-11-2001, 10:34 PM
John ....was that correct...4300 winter employees, what are you guys doing, shoveling rt. 80 by hand???lol...Did you say you were from West Orange N.J.?

04-11-2001, 11:04 PM
Great thread,
As I lay in my bed at night dreaming of having a fleet of trucks and crews out there making me money hand over fist, I now have a reality check to set me straight. The reason I am in this biz is simply because I love it. I think of how bad I am at deligating my duties to others because I like it done the way I do it. Just the thought of having ten guys attemting to do the things I do would likely send me back to the funny farm. The money is nice but I think I really do it for the praise of the satisfied customers. Supervising others so they can steal my applause just wouldn't work for me so I guess I'll keep it small, after all it's not how much volume you do in a day it's how much you get to take home with you!

John Allin
04-12-2001, 06:41 PM
I live in Erie, PA (halfway between Cleveland and Buffalo).
I grew up on Morris County, NJ. Left in 72 after graduating high school. Came to Erie to go to college (on an ice hockey and soccer scholarship). Stayed here and fell in love with snow. I remember when Rte 80 stopped in Hacketstown, NJ and you had to take 46 to the GW Bridge. Then it went to Denville, and then the rest of the way. 287 wasn't there yet. It wasn't "crowded" there yet.

Nah... we don't shovel Rte 80, but we currently plow snow in 13 states, looking to be in 17 states next winter. 4300 is an accurate number at this time.

04-12-2001, 09:28 PM
offer your employees a commission to bring the jobs to you. helps to develop a mutual loyalty and you end up with more work, they with more $ in their pocket, which is what they were seeking in the first place.

04-13-2001, 12:37 AM
This post makes me think of how I got started... Side jobs. One employer told me I was forbidden from doing any sidework. He was the last guy I worked for before I went to work for myself. He also put about 7 or 8 of the other guys in the area into business the same way. Frankly, my guys don't have much time for side work. If I see them using my tools on their own jobs they are in BIG trouble. But, they use my trucks to move. They plow their own drives at the end of the storm. They sometimes even help out their family members using my stuff-after they ask.
The crew is still small enough that I can watch what happens, and I have good relationships with my employees.
Once or twice a year I'll offer a fixed rate for them to get a job done on a Sunday when the schedule is tight, and they love that. As the company grows I'm seeing that there should be policies and mechanisms in place to deal with these situations though.

04-13-2001, 05:16 AM
Mbwent -

Have you tried something like this?

I was thinking of it, but I was concerned that your people would just dump boatloads of junk leads hoping some would pan out. End up taking time away from the quality leads.